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21 Ways to Slim Down Your Thanksgiving Feast

Comfort Foods Without All the Calories
  -- By Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer
From the cheese ball and crackers before to the pumpkin pie after, Thanksgiving meals can weigh in at more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat, according to the Caloric Control Council. That's more than twice the number of calories most of us should eat in an entire day, and enough dietary fat for more than three days!

But Turkey Day needn't leave you feeling so stuffed that you need to loosen your belt at the end of the day. If you're cooking this Thanksgiving, then you're in control of your own destiny because you can decide how much butter, cream and sugar goes into each and every dish. By making some smart substitutions for each recipe, you can easily save calories and fat without sacrificing flavor.

Here are plenty of quick tips and recipe ideas that will slim down your favorite holiday dishes!

Roasted turkey may be the star of the show, but it doesn't have to be a heavyweight. Turkey tends to be a lean meat—moderate in calories and low in fat. One 3-oz serving of light or white meat typically contains 140 calories and 3 grams of fat. Dark meat is more caloric (160 calories and 7 grams of fat) but it also contains twice as much iron—about 15% of your daily recommended intake. Get healthy turkey recipes here, or use these tips to slim it down even more: Stuffing is as much a Thanksgiving tradition as the turkey itself. One 1/2-cup serving typically contains 180 calories and 9 grams of fat. You'll find plenty of healthy stuffing ideas here. Boost the nutrition and cut calories with these ideas: Green bean casserole is a high-fat side dish that's often loaded with sodium, too. One 1/2-cup serving typically contains 120 calories, 8 grams of fat and 550 milligrams of sodium. These green bean casserole recipes cut the fat and calories in half! Here are more ways to make it healthier: Mashed potatoes boast about 220 calories and 8 grams of fat per 1-cup serving. But they often contain butter, cream, whole milk and lots of salt. These spuds weigh in at fewer than 100 calories a serving! Try these lower-calorie flavor additions as well: Gravy is, well, the gravy of the Thanksgiving meal! It blankets mashed potatoes with its silky deliciousness, and helps hide overcooked or dried-out turkey. Unfortunately, gravy is often little more than grease and fat, at 100 calories and 4 grams of fat for a 1/4-cup serving. It needn't do as much damage if you use these tips: Cranberry sauce, often from a can, is full of sugar, corn syrup and other sweeteners. A 1/4-cup serving contains about 110 calories. Homemade cranberry sauce (click here for recipes with fewer than 50 calories) usually has more nutritional value, less sugar, and just 20 calories per quarter cup.

Pie makes a nice finish to a Thanksgiving meal. When cut into 8 slices, one slice of traditional apple pie (with a lattice crust on top) contains 400 calories and 21 grams of fat. Pumpkin pie has 13 fat grams per slice, but fewer calories: 240 to be exact. Desserts are extras and portion control is essential. Try these pumpkin pies with fewer than 100 calories per serving. Follow these tips to indulge in a decadent slice of pie without regretting it later: Remember that Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, be grateful, and enjoy the company of loved ones. You don't have to go overboard to celebrate this special holiday. By using just a few of these many tips and recipes, you'll be able to take part in the tradition without feeling guilty.